Friday, April 25, 2014

Avocado Pie…Yes, Seriously

I was recently involved in a no-sugar challenge with some classmates and after the three weeks were up, I wasn't really looking to jump back into my old sugar-loving ways, but I still craved something a little bit decadent.  And I was in the mood for tropical.

Then I remembered my friend Bethany showed up to a recent installment of our monthly dinner club with a delightful new dessert…avocado pie.  It was incredible.  And stupidly delicious.  When something is so tasty that it's stupid, then you know you've found a keeper.

Since I was craving it RIGHT NOW, and she was out of town, I couldn't get her recipe, but I could Google.  I stumbled upon THIS recipe and went to town on it.

Now, I did not take a picture because…it wasn't that pretty.  And to be honest, I originally wasn't even going to post this one.  It wasn't the same recipe that my friend had used, and it failed to meet the expectations I had for it.  But those expectations blinded me momentarily (i.e. for two days post creation).  The recipe says to let it set in the fridge for four hours.  I beg to differ.  I think it needs at least 24 hours to truly reach perfection.  So keep that in mind.  It is not a quick-turn-around dessert.  It requires some time, and patience with the fork :)  And throw expectations out the window.  This pie totally rocked once I got over myself.

I also made my own graham cracker pie crust (one package of graham crackers, obliterated and mashed to perfection; 1/2 cup melted butter…pour into pie pan, form, bake for 8-10 minutes at 375, allow to cool before using).  It was really, really good!  I didn't add the sugar that the crust recipe called for because I'm just not into that right now, and it was awesome.

Oh, and the original pie recipe called for sweetened condensed milk.  Have you seen how much sugar is in a can of that?!  I instead searched for a good substitute and the number one sub was coconut milk, which we already had.  Bingo!

This pie tastes like a tropical vacation…subtle, delicious, relaxing, tangy, sweet-ish, but not too sweet.  Pack your flippy floppies and your sunscreen, it's vacation time!


2 medium avocados, pitted, peeled and chopped
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 can (14 ounces) light coconut milk
¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
Pinch of salt
Whipped cream for garnish (optional)
1 graham cracker pie crust


-Place avocados and cream cheese in large mixer bowl; beat on medium speed until smooth.  Add coconut milk, lime juice and salt; beat until creamy. 

-Pour into cooled pie crust.  Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on surface of pie.

-Refrigerate for 24 hours.  This allows it time to set and for the flavors to really come through and shine (otherwise the pie will be really runny and not as flavorful).

I think that this pie actually gets better with time.  Two days after making it, it was in its prime.  The lime and gentle coconut flavor popped perfectly, and the crust was an excellent complement to the flavors.  


Born Again Black Bean Brownies

I may never eat a regular brownie again.  I am converted…a born again brownie eater.

I know, it sounds…gross.  Black bean brownies?  What is this, some kind of sick joke?  Sneaking a legume into a sweet?  What?!

My dear friend Kelly unknowingly inspired me to seek out this insanity :)  I needed to try it.

Well guess what, it happened, and it was amazing!  I snagged my recipe from HERE after spending an hour or so browsing recipes online, trying to find something that sounded suitable, and doable.  I hit the jackpot with this one.

And I forgot to take a picture!  P.S. Mine looked way more awesome than they look in the above link…

I made only minor adjustments, and I stuck to the recommendation that you use a food processor, not a blender.  We have one of those tiny, 3 cup, processors, but it magically fit all of the ingredients in it.  (I blended after adding each ingredient, to make sure there was room for everything.)


1-1/2 cups black beans (1-15-oz can, drained and rinsed well)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup oats (I used old fashioned oats because that's what we had on hand)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup pure maple syrup or agave (Honey will work, too; I used maple agave syrup…because that's what we had :))
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1-10 oz. package chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips…AH-MAZING…save ~1/4 cup to top brownies)


-Preheat oven to 350 F.
-Combine all ingredients except chips in food processor, and blend until completely smooth.  A blender is allegedly okay to use (according to the author) but she strongly suggested the food processor instead (for taste and texture) so that's what I did.
-Stir in the chips, then pour into a greased 8×8 pan. [Note: sprinkle extra chocolate chips over the top (you won't be mad you did).]  [Note: I used a 8x9 Pyrex (glass) dish and it was the perfect size for this recipe.]
-Bake 15-18 minutes, then let cool ~20 minutes before cutting. Makes 9-12 brownies.

This are so delicious!  Geof was even impressed!  Super chocolatey, and the texture is fantastic.  


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Caramel Cake Delight

My lovely friend Rina had a birthday yesterday and Geof and I decided we wanted to do something nice for her.  She was hoping for a caramel cake, so when she mentioned as much the wheels began to spin.  I've only ever made one other cake (plenty of box cakes, but does that count?) so I wasn't sure of my abilities, but ask and ye shall receive!

I set about playing on the interwebs to find a suitable recipe and came upon this looker.  A fully made-from-scratch cake.  Challenge: accepted.

It turned out pretty fantastic!  The recipe is intended for a triple layer 9-inch round cake, but since I only have two cake pans I improvised and used the remaining batter to make cupcakes.  Spiffy.

Three things:

1.  It was delicious, BUT it would not have hurt for the cake to have a little more moistness.  In the future, I would add one box of vanilla instant pudding mix and 8oz. of sour cream.  That combination will produce an insanely moist and dense cake of mind-blowing proportions.

2.  Icing cakes, my secret talent is not.  So it's not very pretty, but I had a lot of fun doing it.

3.  I doubled the icing (which is reflected in my adaptation below) as it wouldn't have been enough for my liking as written in the original recipe.  Turns out it was a lot!  I could have just done a batch and a half and been fine.  But now there's plenty to snack on :)

4. I lied, four things.  Baking a cake "requires" a lot of taste testing, so make sure to eat a normal meal (with plenty of sugar-canceling fiber) before doing so.  I had a major sugar buzz going on an otherwise empty belly!

Okay, now for the good stuff!

I greased and floured my cake pans, but the recipe says to use parchment paper, too.  I did not use parchment paper and they came out just fine.

My first time making caramel…I was positively giddy at the outcome!

Combining the caramel with the sugar to make the frosting.  Mmmmmm.

Ta-da!  Not very pretty, but very tasty!  I don't have a cake plate, so I made the "plate" from scratch, too.  I cut two rounds from thick cardboard, taped them together, then covered it in foil.  How 'bout them apples?


3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (important!)
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
(*For a super moist cake, add: one box instant pudding mix (any flavor depending on what you’re going for), and 8 oz. sour cream.  You won’t regret it!)

Icing (double recipe)
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Grease three 9-inch-round cake pans and flour insides of pans.

3. Combine flour and baking powder in bowl.

4. Beat butter and sugar in another bowl at medium speed until smooth. Add eggs, beating until smooth.

5. At low speed, alternately beat in flour mixture and milk.

6. Beat in vanilla.

7. Scrape into prepared pans, dividing evenly.

8. Bake in 350-degree oven 20 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes.

9. Remove cakes from pans and cool completely on racks.

10. Meanwhile, prepare icing…Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Add brown sugar and milk.  Bring to boiling, stirring to dissolve sugar.

11. Remove from heat. Cool.

12. Beat confectioners' sugar with milk mixture until smooth.

13. Frost and stack cake layers on cake plate, spreading icing between each layer. Frost top and sides of cake with remaining icing.

Is it healthy?  Uh, no.  BUT, since it's fully made from scratch, you know exactly what's going into it and you can decide on the type of ingredients in order to ensure it's up to snuff.  You never really know what you're getting in a box…

Is it delicious?  YES!